May 2001

Judge Robert N. Jenkins, Sr.

Circuit Family Court Judge

Judge Robert Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr., can be described as a lawyer for the poor, a community leader, and current Circuit Family Court Judge. In 1996, the South Carolina General Assembly elected Attorney Robert N. Jenkins, Sr. to the position of Judge of the Circuit Family Court of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Seat #5. Throughout his years as a lawyer, he has dedicated his talents and time to serving poor people of South Carolina, by ensuring equal justice through legal aid programs. The eleventh of thirteen children of Shepherd and the Rev. Elouise “”Nancy”” Jenkins of McClellanville, South Carolina, Robert N. Jenkins was born on August 8, 1947. He learned the value of hard work and the importance of obtaining a good education from his parents and older siblings. He was also inspired and motivated by local African American educators who taught him at Lincoln Elementary and High School in McClellanville. He graduated Cum Laude from Burke High School in Charleston, South Carolina in 1964. Jenkins served in the Air Force for four years during the Vietnam era. Later he entered the Citadel Military College of South Carolina in 1969 as a full-time veteran student. He earned his B.A. degree in Political Science in 1972, and became the fourth African American to receive an undergraduate degree from the Citadel. (He would later serve the institution on its Board of Visitors from 1991 – 1996). Jenkins gained his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1975. Attorney Jenkins quickly became an advocate for the poor. From 1976 – 1979, he worked as a staff attorney for a Charleston-based legal aid office. During this time, he pioneered the coordination of the expansion of local based legal aid offices of Marion, Horry, Williamsburg, Georgetown, Dorchester, Colleton, Berkeley, Jasper and Beaufort counties. From 1979 – 1996, he served as Director and Chief Attorney for the Legal Services Agency of Western Carolina. In that position he would pioneer the extension of local-based legal aid offices for Pickens, Anderson, Abbeville, Oconee, Greenwood, McCormick, and Edgefield counties. As director, he also initiated the establishment of a program entitled “”Libra Society,”” which enables private lawyers to give free, “”pro bono””, legal services to poor people who can not be helped through legal aid offices. Throughout his career, he has been a teacher and mentor for as many as fifty young lawyers learning to practice law and provide community service to the poor populations of South Carolina. The Honorable Judge Jenkins has been actively involved with the following organizations: Greenville’s Child, Inc., Greenville Chamber of Commerce, S.H.A.R.E. Inc., Save Our Sons, S.C. Families for Kids, Neighborhoods in Action, and the Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church. This outstanding jurist has been a beacon of hope for many. His personal vision for his life is “”Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”” (Micah 6:8). “